House Republican nominee Tom Emmer drops out of Speaker’s race

October 24, 2023

How likely is it that Rep. Tom Emmer will get enough votes to become Speaker of the House?

House Speaker nominee Tom Emmer (R-MN) dropped out of the race for Speaker Tuesday afternoon—just hours after he was nominated, according to multiple reports.

House Republicans voted for Majority Whip Emmer for Speaker in a secret ballot on Tuesday morning—exactly three weeks after Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was ousted from the leadership position. 

Emmer is the third GOP nominee for Speaker—and the third to drop out—in that many weeks. The party’s first nominee, House Minority leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), dropped out on October 12 before a full House vote was undertaken. The second nominee, House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH), withdrew this past Friday after he was defeated in three separate votes in the full House, during which he lost progressively more Republican support as the days dragged on.

Emmer was nominated among seven GOP candidates, whittled down ahead of the closed-door vote from an initial nine after Rep. Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania dropped out on Monday and Republican Policy Committee Chairman Gary Palmer of Alabama withdrew his name Tuesday morning.

The others were House Republican Vice Conference Chairman Mike Johnson of Louisiana, Republican Study Committee Chairman Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, and Reps. Byron Donalds of Florida, Jack Bergman of Michigan and Austin Scott of Georgia. 

Emmer won the first round of voting, after which the had winnowed down to just four candidates for the second round: Emmer, Johnson, Hern and Donalds.

The final vote behind closed doors was 117 for Emmer, with Johnson taking 97 and while others received a total of 5. One Republican voted “present.”

However, as just one of two candidates among the eight who vote to certify President Biden’s 2020 election victory after the deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol (Rep. Scott was the other), it remained very much in question how many votes Emmer could receive from Republicans hardliners when the vote goes to the full chamber. 

The Republican nominee can afford to lose no more than four GOP votes when balloting goes to the full House since all 212 Democrats are almost certain to continue to vote en mass for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). 

Ahead of his dropping out, at least 26 House Republicans said they would not vote for Emmer in the floor vote.

The discord has been occurring as House Republicans are under pressure to move quickly from members of their own party in the Senate amid a looming deadline to pass a federal budget for fiscal year 2024 and avoid a government shutdown in mid-November, as well as calls to approve appropriations for additional military aid to Israel and Ukraine. The White House unveiled a roughly $100 billion supplemental request, mostly for aid to Ukraine and Israel, last week.

“It’s my 10th term in Congress,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) told ABC News on Sunday, “this is probably one of the most embarrassing things I’ve seen because if we don’t have a Speaker of the House, we can’t govern. And every day that goes by, we’re essentially shut down as a government.”

PHOTO: Majority Whip Tom Emmer on House floor Oct 3

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